EB: What changes are being made in the alignment of SGIM’s regions?
TR: SGIM’s Council recently approved recommendations from the BRL for realignment of the regions. Instead of having seven regions, we will now have six regions (see figure). The biggest changes involve states west of the Mississippi River. The new Southwest Region will include Arizona, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Nevada. The new Northwest Region will include Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Southern Region will gain Oklahoma and Puerto Rico, while the Midwest Region will have no change other than losing Oklahoma. West Virginia will move from the Southern Region to the Mid-Atlantic Region. The New England Region will have no changes.
EB: When will the changes be effective?
TR: Council has asked the BRL to implement the changes starting in May 2024. However, due to the timelines for electing regional officers and planning regional meetings, the BRL will begin preparations for the changes during the current academic year. We plan to create new regional communities on GIMConnect by the spring of 2024. The realigned regions will begin meeting in Fall 2024 or Winter 2025.
EB: Why are these changes being made?
TR: In 2021, Council asked the BRL to reassess the alignment of the regions because some of the regions had much lower rates of participation in meetings and leadership activities than other regions. In addition, the regions varied a lot in the savings they had accrued to support their activities. The pandemic also prompted us to reassess how geographic factors affected the ability of members to attend the regional meetings, given that some regions covered much larger areas than others. The BRL acted upon the request from Council by conducting surveys of members in the regions with lower participation. The survey results confirmed that many members were concerned about having to travel longer distances to attend a meeting, but they also had a strong desire for in person networking. To offer the networking and connections that members desire, it is important to have a sufficient level of participation from multiple institutions within a region.
We believe that the realignment will help to create better parity across regions in the number of members and level of participation as well as in the programming, networking, and fiscal support available within each region. The realignment should help to enrich the programming within regions that had lower levels of participation and help to ensure that a sufficient pool of active senior members exists to support networking and mentoring within each region. More consistent programming and better networking at the regional level should also help members succeed in gaining more national recognition for their work. We hope that the realignment will also stimulate regions to be creative in trying new programs and sharing results of pilot programs between the regions.
EB: How will this affect members and the regional meetings?
TR: All SGIM members will continue to be affiliated with a region according to their primary location. They will be included in the GIMConnect community for that region so that they can communicate with other members in that region.
We encourage members, especially those early in their career, to run for a leadership position in their region. The regions are always looking for volunteers to serve in a variety of positions, whether it is as a regional officer or chairing a committee as part of each region’s meeting planning team. With the recent appointment of Regional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chairs, the regions are also expanding opportunities to lead in the DEI space.
A regional leadership position is a great way to get more involved in the Society. Indeed, most of our national leaders previously served in a regional leadership position. Although we encourage all members to attend the regional meeting in their area, members are permitted to attend any regional meeting that interests them. We also encourage members to invite students, residents, and fellows to join us at a regional meeting. Oftentimes, a regional meeting is the best way to introduce trainees to SGIM because it is easier and less expensive for them to attend a meeting in their area.
EB: How will this affect trainees?
TR: In our survey, members made it clear that ensuring a high level of trainee participation during the realignment was one of their top priorities. The BRL is exploring ways to reduce the cost of meeting registration for trainees, to better support those trainees who may now need to travel longer distances to attend their regional meeting. Ultimately, we believe that the enhanced programming and networking that will accompany the realignment will be a net positive for trainees.
EB: What if members have additional questions?
TR: SGIM leadership, including the President, President-elect, CEO, and BRL Chair, will be attending each regional meeting in this academic year to discuss the realignment. Members will have the opportunity to ask questions in both a public forum and one-on-one with SGIM leadership. Members may also reach out to the Regional Meetings Team regions https://www.sgim.org/meetings/regional-meetings.